Larry Wilson ***************** Rolex 24: It's Porsche Again February 5, 1995 --- Less than two weeks after IMSA changed its rules forcing Porsche AG to withdraw its two team cars from the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, another Porsche entry, the...
Larry Wilson *****************
Rolex 24: It's Porsche Again
February 5, 1995 --- Less than two weeks after IMSA changed its rules forcing Porsche AG to withdraw its two team cars from the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, another Porsche entry, the Kremer Brothers Porsche Spyder K-8, stepped up to the challenge and won the event by 5 laps on the 3.56-mile course which combines a road course with the famed Daytona banking. With drivers Jurgen Lassig (Germany), Christophe Buochut (France), Giovanni Lavaggi (Italy), and Marco Werner (Germany), the Kremer Porsche completed 690 laps, or 2,456 miles at an average speed of 102 mph.
This marks the sixth win at Daytona for the water-cooled, 4-valve, twin-tubocharged 962 powerplant. Its previous wins were in 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, and 1991. The winning chassis is based on the Kremer K-7 which sat on the front row at the 1994 24 Hours of Le Mans and finished 6th overall.
It was a delightful day all around for Porsche-fans as the Porsche 911 RSR of the Swiss team, Claus Ellensberger Corp., took top honors in GTS-2 class and fifth overall completing 654 laps during the grueling endurance test. In the closest race within a race, the Swiss GTS-2 Porsche 911 RSR bested a similar classed Nissan 240SX by only one lap.
This year's event was nearly a Porsche-sweep of all classes. The Jochen Rohr/Hurley Haywood Porsche 911 RSR finished second in GTS-1 class after spending over 30 minutes in the pits early in the race to replace a turbocharger boost valve. In the 6th hour of the race, the car dropped to 21st place but made a steady climb up the charts to finish 4th overall and second in class behind actor Paul Newman's GTS-1 Ford Mustang. After driving his share of stints during the 24-hour race, Newman, whose car number was 70 to match his age, was placed back in the seat to take the checkered flag. He said his class victory was, "a serious kick in the rear."
The Kremer car was not thought to be a top contender for the overall honors after qualifying nearly 10 seconds slower than the pole-sitting Ferrari because of the last-minute IMSA-imposed restrictions placed only on turbocharged cars. With the Ferrari 333SP contingent occupying the first four starting spots, and strong Worlds Sports Car and GTS-1 class entries in the next six rows of the grid, the Kremer Porsche started the race 17th among the 73 starting race cars. And the initial outlook did not improve after the 3:05 p.m. start as Lavaggi spun the car in Turn 3 twenty minutes into the race loosing bodywork which required a visit to the pits for a new nose.
The first sign of Ferrari weakness happened around midnight when the #30 Momo Ferrari came into the pits to fix an oil leak. Then the #3 Ferrari had trouble restarting after a routine stop at 2:28 a.m. Then, one-by-one, the Ferraris began to falter. At the same time, the Kremer Porsche picked up the pace to match the Ferrari-best mark of 31 laps per hour. Halfway through the race, all of the Ferrari teams experienced a problem with the valves not seating correctly and causing severe leakage, misfiring and stalling. Only one Ferrari remained running at the finish, 45 laps down in 8th place.
The Kremer Porsche made an uneventful run according to co-driver Christophe Buochut, 28, who won the 1993 24 Hours of Le Mans driving a Peugeot LM93 with Geoff Brabham. "The car is very, very good. It's a very strong car. Since the start, we've had no mechanical problems. We've had no problems at all. Just, in the night, there was much traffic, many cars, and sometimes you would catch them not quite right. We just drove every time, laps after laps. We've had no special problems."